Location: The Blue Star Sports Club, Sky Street, Kampot
Review: So having spent a week on the idilic island of Koh Rong, I was dying to get back into the gym when I got to the city of Kampot. After googling around for a few minutes searching things like “gyms in Kampot” and “fitness in Kampot” I managed to find what appears to be the only gym in the area. And yes, sentences like the one above are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to cram google friendly key words into this post and increase my google search rankings. We all know whats going on and I am not sorry.
Once I tracked the place down, I realised that what is marked on Google Maps as Gym Club, but it is in-fact called the Blue Star Sports Club. As ever, I picked a hotel near to the gym. This hotel turned out to be so amazing that I want to take a second to shout them out. The hotel is called the River Lodge, and it turned out to be an great place to stay. The food here is incredible and the staff are really nice. They have a free pool table, wifi, air con in the rooms and they even have a poker night twice a week. I won $60 by the way. The gym is only a 5 min walk away from the hotel too, so its a good place to stay if you want to train everyday. You can check out the hotel here.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The Blue Star Sport Club is a decent sized gym but it is pretty much as basic as they come. On my first trip there, I was lucky enough to meet the owner, a local business man who owns this gym, as well as being a property developer and owning the local football centre. It was his brother-in-law who suggested he build a gym, whilst he is more interested in the table tennis club operating out of the same space. We played a few games together and be pretty decisively beat me in all of them. In my defence, I had just trained chest and I am convinced that my arms weren’t working properly. Honest. Shut up.
Entrance to the gym on a day pass is 6000 Riel ($1.50 or about £1.20). The gym is basic, but given that it is all you are going to get in Kampot, you really don’t have any other choice. Most of the equipment works, but the gym would really benefit from a rack for the dumbbells and some stands for the plates, as most of these are scattered across the floor of the gym and locating what you need can take time. Also, as seems to be the case in a number of these smaller gyms in Cambodia, the plates seem to top out at 10kgs. Whilst there are enough plates to load the bar with for even the heaviest lifts, it does make things like deadlifting a somewhat comical affair given how many you end up having on the bar.
Whilst there are enough benches and bars here to work with, they are not the olympic bars you find in western gyms, but rather the same kind of old school home style that most of us had as kids. They work just as well, but you need to be careful you don’t pinch your hands, or lose a finger, when re-racking the bar.
Equipment wise, this gym has:
- Dumb bells up to approx 20kg, as well as make your own ones
- Adjustable benches
- Flat barbell bench
- Incline barbell bench
- Decline barbell bench
- Smith machine
- Dips bar
- A frame for pull ups and bodyweight exercises
- Short straight bar
- Preacher curl bench
- Chest press machine
- Pec dec
- Leg press machine
- Abs curl machine
- Fixed bikes
- Swinging leg machines
- Standing turning on a spinning disk thing
- Several table tennis tables
The gym also has one of the coolest, old school abs machines I have ever seen. You basically put your knees onto a rolling pad on a small rollercoaster type contraption and then use your abs to raise it to a vertical position. You can see the machine in the fourth photo. I have no idea what it is called, but it is great fun!
The gym sells water and isotonic drinks. Water is 1000 Riel (0.20p) and isotonic drinks are 2500 Riel. (0.50p). The gym does not sell protein and I have not seen it for sale anywhere in Kampot. I would recommend that you should stock up before you get here, as I have also not found any pre-made protein drinks in the local shops. If anyone knows anywhere you can get protein in Kampot, please do feel free to put it in the comments below.
Who is this gym for? Whilst I was training here, I did see a mix of men and women at this gym. For the most part, the people training here seem to be local Cambodians, with the exception of one massive Russian guy and an Australian kickboxer who was kind enough to pose for the cool action shot below. As with everywhere else in Cambodia, women do not seem to lift but I don’t think this is the kind of place where women would be made to feel uncomfortable if they were to train like this. I would however be prepared for looks, but its likely that this would be down to the fact that you would be out-lifting most of the locals who seem to train low weight and high reps. Overall, I would recommend this place to all and sundry.
Tips: The gym does not have air conditioning, or fans, but rather it has squares cut out of the metal walls to allow air to circulate. As a result, I would recommend bringing a sweat towel, as it does get very hot during the day. Also, don’t play the owner of the gym at table tennis for money or you will be eating pot noodles for the rest of your trip.